Swift Bus Rapid Transit (Community Transit And Everett Transit)

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Swift Bus Rapid Transit (Community Transit and Everett Transit) SUMMARY Swift bus rapid transit (BRT) is a partnership between two transit agencies (Community Transit and Everett Transit) in the Central Puget Sound Region, WA. Community Transit directly operates Swift. Community Transit and Everett Transit developed an interlocal agreement calling for Everett Transit to contribute 0.05 percent of its sales and use tax toward Community Transit to fund Swift operations. The agreement also calls for Everett Transit to construct the northern terminus for Swift at Everett Station and to provide up to 4 million for construction of Swift stations within the city limits of Everett, as well as installation of transit signal priority technology at intersections along the Swift route. This case study describes the details of the Swift service and the interlocal agreement. FINDINGS Service Overview Swift is a bus rapid transit system jointly funded by Community Transit and Everett Transit. Community Transit directly operates Swift along a 16.7-mile route on State Route SR-99, traversing the cities of Everett, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Shoreline, and unincorporated Snohomish County. The corridor includes six miles of business access/transit (BAT) lanes and traffic signal priority (TSP) improvements along the entire corridor. The corridor includes 14-paired Swift BRT stations and two terminal stations. The stations are located about 1-mile apart along the route. Figure 1 shows the sequence of stops (not to scale). Source: http://www.commtrans.org/Swift/ Texas A&M Transportation Institute 2012 Figure 1. Swift Stops Page 1

History In the late 1990s and early 2000s, Community Transit (Snohomish County) operated several local bus routes along the SR-99 corridor. The bus routes operated within the city of Everett, outside of the Community Transit service area. Residents of both the city of Everett and Snohomish County used the service; however, the City of Everett did not provide funding to support the operation. Community Transit removed most service from the Everett portion of the corridor in 2003 and reallocated the resources to services within the agency’s service area. Transit patrons using the entire corridor were then required to transfer between Everett Transit and Community Transit at the city boundary. Community leaders recognized the preferred transit solution in this corridor is seamless service across the city boundary. At the same time, the Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC) was issuing reports documenting projected growth in the corridor, suggesting a growing need for transit services across the boundary between the two transit agencies. Community Transit conducted a BRT feasibility study for the SR-99 corridor in 2003. The SR-99 corridor was the most heavily traveled corridor in the system and the preferred alignment for a BRT investment. Community Transit anticipated that BRT was a good fit for meeting the future travel demand growth forecast for Snohomish County and this new mode was likely to attract new customers to public transit. After receiving approval from the Board of Directors to proceed, Community Transit opened a dialogue with the City of Everett regarding the opportunity for Everett to partner on the project and route the service on SR-99 within the city. In 2007, Community Transit and Everett Transit entered into a partnership agreement providing for Everett to fund a portion of both capital and operating elements of the project. Subsequent to system implementation, Everett has updated land use regulations to incentivize transit-oriented development (TOD) around Swift stations within the City. Service Area Community Transit’s service area consists of the majority of Snohomish County, excluding the city of Everett. The City of Everett operates Everett Transit within city limits. Size and Population Swift travels through Everett, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Shoreline, and unincorporated portions of Snohomish County. Table 1 provides an overview of the area in which Swift operates. Table 1. Swift BRT Coverage Area Population and Size Entity City of Everett City of Lynnwood City of Edmonds City of Shoreline Snohomish County 2000 Population 91,488 33,847 39,515 53,025 606,024 2010 Population 103,019 35,836 39,709 53,007 713,335 2010 Land Area (Sq. Mi.) 33 8 9 12 2,089 Source: U.S. Census 2010 page 2 Texas A&M Transportation Institute 2012

Demographics Table 2 is a comparison of selected demographics for Snohomish County and Fort Bend County as of 2010 Census. Table 2. Selected Snohomish County and Fort Bend County Demographics Quick Facts Snohomish County Fort Bend County Population, 2011 estimate 722,400 606,953 Population, 2010 713,335 585,375 Persons 65 years and over, percent, 2011 10.7% 7.7% White persons, percent, 2011 (a) 81.7% 58.3% Black persons, percent, 2011 (a) 2.8% 21.5% American Indian and Alaska Native persons, percent, 2011 (a) 1.6% 0.6% Asian persons, percent, 2011 (a) 9.2% 17.5% Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander persons, percent, 2011 (a) 0.5% 0.1% Persons reporting two or more races, percent, 2011 4.2% 1.9% Persons of Hispanic or Latino Origin, percent, 2011 (b) 9.2% 24.2% White persons not Hispanic, percent, 2011 73.9% 36.1% Foreign born persons, percent, 2006-2010 13.6% 24.5% Language other than English spoken at home, pct age 5 , 2006-2010 17.6% 37.0% Veterans, 2006-2010 60,605 25,352 Mean travel time to work (minutes), workers age 16 , 2006-2010 Housing units in multi-unit structures, percent, 2006-2010 Median value of owner-occupied housing units, 2006-2010 Persons below poverty level, percent, 2006-2010 29.7 30.6 26.1% 10.2% 338,600 171,500 8.4% 8.0% (a) Includes persons reporting only one race. (b) Hispanics may be of any race, so also are included in applicable race categories. Source: US Census Bureau State & County QuickFacts Swift Service Characteristics Service Description Swift serves a 17-mile stretch of the SR 99/Evergreen Way/Rucker Avenue corridor between Shoreline and Everett. Swift operates every 12 minutes weekdays from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m. and every 20 minutes weekdays from 5-6 a.m., weeknights after 7 p.m. and on Saturdays. The final bus leaves each terminal at 9:40 p.m. Service is not offered on Sundays or major holidays. Both Swift terminals are major transit hubs. At the south end, the Aurora Village Transit Center offers connections to Community Transit and King County Metro Transit buses that serve south Snohomish County, north King County, and downtown Seattle. At the north end, Everett Station offers connections to Community Transit, Everett Transit, Island Transit, Skagit Transit and Sound Transit buses, as well as Sounder commuter trains, Greyhound and Amtrak. Local stops near Swift stations offer transfers to additional stops in the corridor as well as east-west service provided by Community Transit and Everett Transit. Texas A&M Transportation Institute 2012 Page 3

Key destinations served by Swift include: Snohomish County Campus - Downtown Everett Everett Clinic – Gunderson Building Edmonds Community College Premera Blue Cross Swedish/Edmonds Hospital The Swift BRT route capitalizes on previously made infrastructure investments, including over 6 miles of business access/transit (BAT) lanes and over 10 miles of traffic signal priority (TSP) improvements. BAT lanes provide queue bypass for transit. The lanes are shared with right-turning traffic along a roadway. At signalized intersections, the BAT lanes change to a right-turn only lane except for transit that can continue through the intersection. TSP allows traffic signal timing to be adjusted based on transit request to either extend a current green time or to provide an early delivery of green time for transit. BAT lanes and TSP improvements will assist the timeliness of the Swift BRT service. The project uses 12 paired Swift BRT stations, one single station southbound in Edmonds, and one single full-service Swift BRT station (29 total) located about one mile apart at key transit service intersections along the route. A BRT station is also at an existing bay in the Aurora Village Transit Center. The stations are designed to maximize safety and efficiency for Swift BRT customers. Measuring about 10 feet wide by 40 feet long behind the existing sidewalk, the Swift BRT shelters include a large, lighted, all-weather canopy, protected seating areas, ticket vending machines, and both static and electronic customer information signs. The shelters sit atop a 60- to 70-foot-long platform that are ADA compliant and have design features to aid customers in entering and exiting the coaches. Figure 2 provides a map of the Swift BRT corridor, and Table 3 provides additional specifics about each stop along the corridor. Source: http://www.commtrans.org/swift/ Figure 2. Swift Route Map page 4 Texas A&M Transportation Institute 2012

Table 3. Swift BRT Stations and Jurisdictions Station Name / Location / Intersection Direction Jurisdiction Everett Station Northern Terminus Everett Pacific/Wetmore Westbound Everett Pacific/Colby Eastbound Everett 41st Street Southbound Everett 40th Street Northbound Everett 50th Street Southbound Everett 50th Street Northbound Everett Pecks Drive Southbound Everett Madison Street Northbound Everett Casino Road Southbound Everett Casino Road Northbound Everett 4th Avenue W Southbound Everett 4th Avenue W Northbound Everett 112th Street Southbound Everett 112th Street Northbound Everett Airport Road Southbound Snohomish County Airport Road Northbound Everett Lincoln Way Southbound Snohomish County Lincoln Way Northbound Snohomish County 148th Street Southbound Snohomish County 148th Street Northbound Snohomish County 174th Street Southbound Lynnwood 176th Street Northbound Lynnwood 196th Street Southbound Lynnwood 200th Street Northbound Lynnwood 204th Street1 Southbound Edmonds 216th Street Southbound Lynnwood 216th Street Northbound Edmonds 238th Street Southbound Edmonds 238th Street Northbound Edmonds Aurora Village Transit Center Southern Terminus Shoreline Source: http://commtrans.org Texas A&M Transportation Institute 2012 Page 5

Partnerships and Interlocal Agreements (ILA) Swift BRT is a joint partnership between Everett Transit and Community Transit. The partner led to an interlocal agreement (ILA) between the two agencies. The ILA calls for Everett Transit to contribute 0.05 percent of its sales and use tax toward the cost of operations by Community Transit. The agreement also calls for Everett Transit to construct the northern terminus for Swift at Everett Station and to provide up to 4 million for construction of Swift stations within the city limits of Everett, as well as installation of transit signal priority technology at intersections along the Swift route. 1 Community Transit needed significant contribution from Everett in order to justify the creation of the Swift system. The Community Transit Board of Directors felt that the revenue generated from the 0.05 percent of the sales and use tax would be significant commitment in operating funds. The tax yields to about 1.5 million per year in operating. Total annual operating expense of Swift is about 7.8 million. The purpose of the Swift BRT service is to promote and enhance transit ridership in the SR-99 corridor by significantly improving transit image, capacity, speed, and reliability, and to provide continuous service into and out of the City of Everett. The Rucker Street/Evergreen Way/SR-99 corridor is a high-priority corridor that connects five cities and two counties. In recent years, traffic congestion has become a serious and growing problem. Drivers along much of the corridor experience delays moving through intersections. During evening and morning peak commute periods, several intersections along the project corridor experience significant congestion and delay, causing traffic in some cases to back up for approximately three signalization cycles. Over the next 20 years, vehicle travel is expected to double. The SR-99 corridor has the heaviest volume of transit riders in the Community Transit system (about 1.5 million riders a year) and connects with a dense network of local and regional transit services. Everett Transit Route 9 also has the heaviest ridership in the SR-99 corridor. Public transportation could be an important factor in maintaining existing and future mobility in the corridor. Objectives and benefits of the proposed Swift BRT service include improved transit system efficiency through 2: Closure of service gaps. Travel time savings and improved reliability. Improved transit performance. Transit performance with Swift BRT will be enhanced by use of BAT lanes throughout much of the corridor. BAT lanes enable buses to bypass general-purpose lane traffic congestion. Use of TSP for buses will also enhance performance by “holding” green lights as a Swift BRT bus approaches an intersection, allowing the bus to access the station, generally located on the far side of the intersection. Increased transit ridership. Based on planning level estimates, Swift BRT will increase transit ridership in the corridor from about 1.5 million riders in 2008 to about 2.4 million riders by 2015 (an approximate 57 percent increase). Predicted increases are made possible by a combination of factors, including high-frequency service, reduced travel times, attractive and comfortable buses and stations and enhanced passenger information systems. Extended service hours will also allow Swift BRT to attract a wider market of passengers. 1 http://www.commtrans.org/News/New.cfm?id 1229 2 Swift Bus Rapid Transit Project for SR-99 between Everett Station and the Aurora Village Transit Center, SEPA Environmental Checklist, Prepared by OTAK, May 2008for Community Transit. page 6 Texas A&M Transportation Institute 2012

Reductions in vehicle trips and vehicle miles traveled. Swift BRT is predicted to increase transit ridership in the corridor from about 4,200 riders per day today to approximately 6,600 riders per day by 2015. Vehicle trip reductions are estimated at over 800,000 per year. Reduction in vehicle miles traveled (VMT) is estimated at 8,036,800 miles annually. Performance Monitoring Community Transit is responsible for monitoring the performance of Swift BRT. Swift is Community Transit’s highest ridership route. In August 2012, Swift averaged 31.5 boardings per revenue hour and 1.5 boardings per revenue mile. Because of the need to reduce operating expenditures over the past couple of years, Community Transit reduced Swift service by eliminating service on Sundays and increasing headways from 10 minutes to 12 minutes. Fares and Transfers Passengers must pay for their fare prior to boarding a Swift bus either by purchasing a Swift ticket or by using the regional fare card known as ORCA. Each Swift station has two Swift ticket vending machines (Figure 3) which accept cash or credit. Each Swift station is also equipped with two ORCA card readers (Figure 4). ORCA users get a two-hour window to take another bus or train while getting credit for the fare they have already paid. Figure 3. Swift Ticket Vending Machine Figure 4. ORCA Fare Card and Card Reader Community Transit sets the fares for the Swift BRT service. The Community Transit fare structure reflects local bus fares and commuter bus fares for transit services to Seattle. Community Transit local fares apply on all trips within Snohomish County. Community Transit commuter fares to Seattle are based on distance. Customers who board "North/East" of Everett pay a higher fare for commutes into Seattle than customers who board in the "South/Everett" area. Table 4 provides the Community Transit fare structure. Texas A&M Transportation Institute 2012 Page 7

Table 4. Community Transit Fare Structure Adult 19 to 64 1.75 Commuter South/Everett 3.50 Youth 6 to 18 1.25 2.75 3.75 1.75 0.75 1.50 1.75 1.75 63.00 126.00 162.00 63.00 Fare Category Reduced Fare Permit Monthly Pass (Adult Fare) Local Commuter North/East 4.50 Paratransit 1.75 Source: http://commtrans.org The Community Transit Board of Directors has proposed a fare increase for all services that will take effect Feb. 1, 2013. The proposal would see local bus fares increase by 25 cents per boarding. South County/Everett commuter bus fares increase by 50 cents and North/East County commuter bus fares increase by 75 cents. Paratransit fares are proposed to increase by 25 cents. Fleet Photo courtesy of Community Transit, Snohomish County, Washington Figure 5. Swift BRT Bus with Logo Swift BRT uses 2009 New Flyer BRT Hybrid/Electric vehicles, as shown in Figure 5, for the operation of the route. These vehicles are equipped with: Swift branding 62-foot Articulated Coach 3 doors, internal bike racks 45 seats and room for 50 standing passengers The buses and stations used by Swift have many bus rapid transit features. The buses have three doors and passengers can get on or off at any door. Wheelchairs board at the front door and are secured via a passive restraint system that doesn't require the driver to help; bicycles board at the rear door, and are stowed in bike racks just inside. The buses have especially low floors, which combined with raised curbs at stations makes near level boarding. This is especially useful for speeding up wheelchair access. page 8 Texas A&M Transportation Institute 2012

Facilities Community Transit and Everett Transit constructed all of the Swift stations using a combination of local revenue and State of Washington Department of Transportation grant funding. The partners utilized no federal funding in the creation of the BRT stations. Community Transit owns, maintains, and operates all Swift facilities. If Swift service were cancelled, the stations constructed by Everett Transit would be given back to Everett Transit. Photo courtesy of Oran Viriyincy 2009 Larger than a standard bus shelter, Swift stations are designed to appear more like miniature light rail stations (see Figure 6). Stations are identified by a roadside marker and have ample lighting, translucent, graffitiresistant weather barriers, and a real-time monitor to let waiting passengers know when the next bus will arrive. Frequent visits are made by transit police as well as regular upkeep of the facility. All passengers pay their fares before boarding. Passengers without transit passes need to buy a ticket at a vending machine located at the station. The combination of off-board fare collection, three door loading, and level boarding onto the buses results in faster boarding and less time spent at each stop. Buses only stop at Swift stations, and stations are located about a mile apart. Figure 6. Swift Station Promotion and Public Information Community Transit is responsible for providing public information and promoting the service. The agency offers information on the internet at http://www.commtrans.org/Swift. Challenges and Barriers The main challenge of Swift development and implementation was the building of the relationship between Everett Transit and Community Transit. Once each entity realized that it was in their best interest to develop the service and share the costs, planning and development was made possible. Another challenge was determining station locations. The corridor goes through five jurisdictions, so all jurisdictions played a role in determining station locations. Texas A&M Transportation Institute 2012 Page 9

is a bus rapid transit system jointly funded by Community Transit and Everett Transit. Community Transit directly operates . Swift. along a 16.7-mile route on State Route SR-99, traversing the cities of Everett, Lynnwood, Edmonds, Shoreline, and unincorporated Snohomish County. The corridor includes six miles of business access/transit (BAT) lanes

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